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Take Five: Victims lose £177m to impersonation scams

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Brits are urged to ‘Take Five’ as a total of £177.6m was lost to convincing impersonation scams last year.

There were more than 45,000 cases of impersonation scams in 2022, according to figures from UK Finance.

Impersonation scams occur when criminals find a way to contact people then pretend to be a respected organisation such as the NHS, a bank, the police, a delivery company, a utility company, a friend or even family member. They usually start with a call, text, email or direct message with an urgent request for money or personal and financial information.

It’s easy to mistake the scams for genuine communication as they can be very sophisticated, with UK Finance warning that criminals are experts at impersonating people and organisations, spending hours researching their next victims.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “We receive genuine communication from trusted organisations on a daily basis, meaning it’s not always easy for us to spot when an approach for information is from a criminal.

“Anyone can be caught out by a scam in the heat of the moment and criminals are constantly adapting their tactics to appear legitimate.”

Take Five Week

As part of Take Five Week  – a UK Finance initiative to counter fraud – running until 21 April, Brits are urged to stop and think before parting with their cash after receiving contact.

Research from the campaign revealed that only 51% of people always check if a request for money or personal information is legitimate before responding.

People are most likely to check if an email address is legitimate (67%), whether there are spelling and grammar errors (59%) or the website is legitimate (57%).

Of those who had been approached by a scammer, an alarming one in five people who had responded to communications from a range of organisations said that they later believed it to be fraudulent.

And the research also found that younger adults are particularly at risk. Just 38% of 18-34-year-olds always check a request for money or information is genuine – the lowest of any age group.

This group was also most likely (39%) to believe they had been contacted by a criminal after they had already responded to an initial request for information from what they thought was a trusted organisation.

Here’s how to Take Five:

  • STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.